Selig praises new supplement law, J.C. Romero awaits apology

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Senators McCain and Dorgan introduced some new legislation today that proposes to more closely regulate the supplement industry in the wake of reports that many products contain designer steroids and other such nasties which aren’t disclosed to the public.  Bud Selig just released a statement on it:

“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I would like to thank Senators
John McCain and Byron Dorgan for their efforts to broaden the Food and
Drug Administration’s regulatory authority over dietary supplements. We
fully support the proposed legislation designed to protect athletes and
consumers from dangerous, mislabeled and tainted over-the-counter
supplements. The continued leadership of Senators McCain and Dorgan has
made an impact on this important issue.”

That’s all good, but if Selig really believed that mislabled and tainted over-the-counter supplements were a problem, why didn’t he buy J.C. Romero’s defense? Romero, you’ll recall, was suspended 50 games for taking something he bought from a GNC store which both he and the MLBPA thought was OK, and contained no evidence that it had bad stuff in it on the label, but turned out to have a banned hormone in it. Baseball didn’t think that got him off the hook and he served his suspension because, according to Major League Baseball, he was “negligent.”

If baseball really thinks guys like Romero were “negligent” then you’d think they’d issue a statement saying that the new law is unnecessary.

UPDATE:  Just had a conversation with someone at Major League Baseball. Their view — which makes a good deal of sense, I’ll admit — is that the drug policy sort of has to take the kind of zero-tolerance approach that was taken in the Romero case, or else enforcement actions are going to be prone to a bunch of “I didn’t know what I was taking” defenses, rendering the policy largely ineffective. Ultimately, the issue is whether a player — despite his intentions — competed in a game with a banned substance in his system. I can see that. Baseball’s drug policy, while having multiple purposes, should probably have “making sure athletes are competing on a level playing field” as its top priority.

But one question I do have is that, if that’s the case, what’s the point of even having an appeals and arbitration process like the one Romero went through in the first place? Why not just a test-positive-no-appeal kind of system? Or at the most an appeals process that only scrutinizes the science of it all, such as whether the test itself was wrongly administered or whether the samples were tainted or what have you?

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.

Twins’ top prospect Nick Burdi will undergo Tommy John surgery

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Twins’ right-hander Nick Burdi is set to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the team announced on Friday. Burdi made 14 appearances for Double-A Chattanooga before succumbing to a torn ulnar collateral ligament and is not expected to make his major league debut until mid-2018 at the earliest. A UCL tear doesn’t always require Tommy John surgery — less severe cases can be treated with platelet-rich plasma injections, for example — but Twins’ chief baseball officer Derek Falvey told the press that surgery was unavoidable as Burdi had sustained a “full thickness tear” in his elbow.

Entering the 2016 season, Burdi was widely considered a top ten prospect in the Twins’ system. His exceptional velocity and potent fastball-slider combo made him a fearsome relief option as he came off of his first season in Double-A Chattanooga in 2015. During the 2016 season, however, the 24-year-old experienced a significant setback after a bone bruise cut his season short in late July. Prior to Friday’s diagnosis, he appeared to be staging an impressive comeback with the Chattanooga Lookouts this spring, decorating his efforts with a sparkling 0.53 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.6 SO/9 over 17 innings.

It’s a tough break for the Twins, whose farm system was ranked 21st in the league by Baseball America. “Obviously he’s proven when he’s healthy he’s an absolute premium prospect, and the Twins are treating him that way,” Burdi’s agent, Matt Sosnick, told Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. “We just want to make sure everything we do ultimately leads to the goal of getting him back on the field as quickly as he can.”